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A Rock Climber's Guide To Orange County

vertical adventures header
(credit: Vertical Adventures)

Outdoor enthusiasts: set your sights high and achieve a new goal this year. Try rock climbing and head to the top of Southern California's many striking summits. Whether a beginner or advanced, stimulate both the senses and physical body by challenging your balance, agility and endurance. Regardless of skill level, it's possible to fly high amongst stunning rock formations from the desert of Joshua Tree to the mountains of Idyllwild. Keep in mind, rock climbing is an extreme sport and must be taken seriously. All levels are encouraged to go with an expert or take part in one of the many climbing schools found throughout the region.

Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua Tree Rock Climbing School
HCR Box 3034
Joshua Tree, CA 92252
(760) 366-4745

Just two to three hours from Orange County sits America's most popular rock climbing magnet: Joshua Tree National Park. Immersed in Southern California's Mojave and Colorado deserts, this rock climber's dream of 8,000 climbs is also known for its unique desert camping atmosphere. Joshua Tree Rock Climbing School makes it easy to become one with the rocks regardless of your experience level. Sign up for a lesson, and expect to meet a world-class, pro climber ready to show you the ropes. All gear and equipment will be provided with no extra charge.

vertical Adventures
(credit: Vertical Adventures)

Idyllwild Tahquitz Peak
Vertical Adventures
Idyllwild, CA 92549
(800) 514-8785

While climbing can be enjoyed throughout the year in California, make the best of the weather and choose the desert in the winter and mountains in the summer. Turn a rock climbing adventure into a getaway this spring or summer, and head to the alpine-rich town of Idyllwild. Just two hours east of Orange County in the San Jacinto Mountains, find Southern California's tallest rock formation at 1,000 feet: Tahquitz Rock. Beginners and intermediate climbers: set up your climb beforehand with the experts at Vertical Adventures Rock Climbing School. Make the most of your mountain escape and stay at The Corner Lodge in Idyllwild for a cozy cabin retreat.

Related: Best Fall Family Getaways

Stoney Point
(credit: Sean P./Yelp)

Stoney Point
Topanga Canyon Boulevard
Chatsworth, CA 91311
(818) 756-8060

While the historic site of Stoney Point in Topanga Canyon is considered one of the most beautiful parks in Los Angeles, it's a far cry from the rock climbing found in Yosemite or Idllywild. Known as a quick fix for Angelenos, head to Stoney Point for a day of stunning views, hikes and, of course, climbing. More visually intricate than typical rock climbing gyms, enjoy boulders fusing together to form caves, dens and alcoves.

mission trails regional park
(credit: Mission Trails Regional Park)

Mission Trails State Park
1 Father Junipero Serra Trail
San Diego, CA 92119
(619) 668-3281

Just eight miles east of downtown San Diego lays one of the largest urban parks in the U.S.: Mission Trails State Park. Ideal for all-levels climbing, the park is known to have some of the best terrain in the county due its variety of crack and face tracks. Perfect for any time of year, try an introductory, intermediate or advanced climbing session with the pros found at The Southern Terrain. For $125, enjoy four hours of instruction with all gear included.

(credit: Rockreation)

1300 Logan Ave.
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
(714) 556-7625

One of the best ways to prepare for an outdoor climbing adventure is to learn the basics at an indoor climbing gym. Try Costa Mesa's Rockcreation's Fight Gravity Series for a boost of confidence and poise. For $99, receive six hours of training, a free month membership and unlimited access to its facility.

Related: Best Rock Climbing Facilities For Kids In Orange County

Jessica Blotter has 10 years experience in the advertising industry and is founder of Publicly Loved - at the heart of brands, causes and events. As an author of two regional travel blogs with CBS Local and, she has produced more than 30 published articles covering regional getaway destinations and charitable events. Follow her on Twitter @publiclyloved.

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